We news people like to mark important anniversaries. And, this is one of those moments.
Two years ago Monday, Mohamed Bouazizi committed a personal act of protest. The young fruit seller from the Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid set himself on fire – and set off a revolution.
The Arab Spring, as it came be known, unseated a dictator in his country.The upheaval also sent leaders in Egypt and Libya packing. The reverberations are still being felt around the Middle East.
And by Bouazizi’s family.
His mother, Manoubia, now lives in a Tunis suburb. She notes that some Tunisians complain about what’s happened in the past two years. But she says that’s not Mohammed’s fault.
“He was just a reason that God gave. He did not do anything. It was meant to be. Mohammed was humiliated and had a difficult life,” Manoubia said.
“What Mohammed did was not for nothing because one does not set oneself on fire for nothing. If he was not slapped in the face, if he did not cry, if he did not scream and shout, the revolution would not have been so big. But it’s true, after the people shouted, took to the streets, put their lives at risk, got beaten up and wounded, nothing happened or changed. So it is understandable that people are frustrated.”
Manoubia said she’s proud of what her son did.
But since Bouazizi’s act of defiance, his mother and the family were driven from their hometown. They were fed up with neighbors who claimed they had benefited from their son’s death. She says they never got any money.
What she does want on this anniversary, said Manoubia, is for the current government to take stock of the debt it owes to people like Mohammed and the others who helped topple the former regime.
“Until now, I see a kind of disregard and lack of attention from the government. The government could have at least helped the mothers of the wounded from the revolution. They did not receive and financial or moral compensation. People are still waiting,” she said.
“We are still sad and upset about that, especially now that the anniversary of Mohammed’s death is approaching. I am still saddened by his death and he is always in my heart and the hearts of all the mothers and the people who made the revolution.”